• The Songweaver's Vow

    She tells Greek legends to entertain Norse gods — until one of her stories leads to murder. Now she's alone in hostile Asgard, and Ragnarok is coming.

    Just released! Check it out.

Writing Women.

Let’s talk about lady protagonists.

No, this isn’t another rant about needing more strong female characters, nor the problems with Strong Female Characters (TM). (That’s an easy problem to solve, really: you write good characters, and some of them are female. Done. Not every character needs to carry the impossible weight of universal representation.)

No, I’m going to talk about just the number of females, and my own part in the current state of affairs. Yes, this was partly prompted by Jo Eberhardt’s “The Problem With Female Protagonists,” but I think I’m going to add some additional data and personal takes.

First, let’s look at a statistical truth: There are more books and films with male protagonists than female. (The very fact that we call out but-look-a-female-lead! is proof of it being outside the norm. Nobody needs to point out gravity, because we’re all used to it.) But because we’re all neurologically programmed to notice the abnormal more than the normal, when we do start seeing “diversity,” it feels bigger than it is.

This is why research shows that if 17% of a given group is female, the men in the group report an equal number of men and women, and when the number of females reaches 33%, the men report a majority of women. The “excess” of women over the “norm” is what’s perceived, not an actual count. Continue reading

Lady Voices in Audiobooks

I listen to a fair number of audiobooks, mostly because I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car and reading a paperback while driving is both illegal and stupid. Audiobooks keep me alert and entertained. I listen mostly to fiction, but I also enjoy audio non-fiction and some recorded lectures, especially if I’m researching for a story.

I have some favorite narrators, of course, but I don’t choose books just for the narrator. I have, however, quit books because I did not like the narrator. A reader can really set the tone and influence the flow of a story.

One pet peeve is when male readers indicate a female character primarily by going all breathy. It can make a political thriller or sci fi adventure sound more like a 1-900 sex line. Continue reading

Never Peeve a Writer

Seat belt on an airplane, buckled-up

Seat belt on an airplane, buckled-up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One Christmas I received a t-shirt which reads, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.”

It had already been repeatedly announced that our flight was 100% full, every seat sold and occupied, no upgrades, no seat swaps, and no room for everyone’s carry-ons. So there was no excuse for the guy occupying both his seat and my own, one butt cheek planted firmly on each cushion, legs spread to encompass both seats fully. He wasn’t a particularly large individual who needed extra space, and he wasn’t resting there temporarily while tucking a bag beneath the seat; he was settled and just claiming extra territory. Continue reading

Writing RPG Scenes

“A little help?” called Angie. “I’m down sixty-four hit points! This thing is killing me!”

Cassandra didn’t even look up from the figures on the table. “I know! That’s why I’m about to hit it in the head with a mace!”

“Cassandra, you’re the cleric! I want some healing.”

Cassandra glanced at her character sheet. Morningstar or broadsword? She should have buffed the sword. “Quit your whining, I’m busy.”

Angie’s voice was insistent. “Healing?”

“Fine, fine.” Cassandra raised a hand overhead and pointed at Angie. “Cure moderate. Take—” she rolled two dice— “twenty-two points back.”

The GM frowned. “Hold on, her character’s twenty feet away from you. You can’t cure from there.”

“Faith’s reach! I took that feat. I can touch from range distances.”

“Thanks,” said Angie. “Now I can run away screaming.”

“And leave the cleric alone in the front line?”

“There shouldn’t be a cleric in the front line!”

“Shut up, you.”

“Right, then.” The GM sighed. “You’re that kind of cleric. This is going to be a rough game.”

Writing RPG sessions feels like cheating, because I basically just polish our own game transcripts.

I am that terrible non-healing healer. You may commence empathy for my party.

Star Wars and Conspiracy Theories

Français : Logo de star wars crée à partir du ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the impending release of The Force Awakens, a lot of old Star Wars material is being revisited about the internet, including several fun conspiracy theories. I delayed writing this post too long, so you may have seen some of these by now, but here’s a roundup of my favorites. Continue reading

Herod the Great (Big Jerk) in History

etching of Herod the Great

Herod the Great

I know well enough that the Jews will keep a festival upon my death, however it is in my power to be mourned for on other accounts, and to have a splendid funeral, if you will but be subservient to my commands. Do you but take care to send soldiers to encompass these [illustrious] men that are now in custody, and slay them immediately upon my death, and then all Judea, and every family of them, will weep at it, whether they will or no.

This was how Herod intended to ensure mourning at his funeral. Yikes. (Fortunately, these orders were not carried out after his death.) Continue reading

History: When Fiction isn’t Whack Enough

Herod the Great

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why write from history? Because seriously, even my caffeinated imagination couldn’t make some of this stuff up. From my (very rough) NaNoWriMo work in progress:

“Now, don’t judge him too harshly,” Saman said. “After all, the man is capable of deep love. When he left for the dangerous task of negotiating with Octavian, he feared that if he died, he would be separated from his wife, who would surely find another husband with her great beauty. So he left orders that should Octavian kill him, she should be executed at once, so that no other man might have her and he could be with her in death.”

Arash simply stared at his master.

“She learned of this, and rather than appreciating his vast devotion, she grew to hate him. In the end, he tried her for treason and saw her executed, and he grieved for a great while.” Saman’s voice was flippant, with a deeper undercurrent of disgust.

“I… should think he might,” Arash ventured.

“He named a tower for her,” Saman said. “The Miriame. It is quite beautiful.”

This is a lot of time-consuming research — really not ideal for the on-the-clock NaNoWriMo — but I confess to having some fun with it. I may post more findings later, but in the meantime, I’m quite behind on my word count, so back to work!

Something Wicked, or How I Got Kicked Out of Book Club

Cover of "Something Wicked This Way Comes...

Cover of Something Wicked This Way Comes (film)

So Monday night I attended for the first time our local library’s book club. It may also have been my last.

The club was discussing Something Wicked This Way Comes, the creepy seasonal novel by Ray Bradbury. I’ve always felt vaguely guilty about not liking this novel quite as much as it probably deserves, but after listening to everyone else give their impressions, I felt like a positive fangirl. Oh, sure, a few enjoyed it, but at least half the group hadn’t even finished the book.

That’s not what got me into trouble, though. No, this particular session of book club offered dinner and a movie, and we watched the film adaptation for further discussion.

I realized I was both dominating the conversation and sounding rather negative, both of which I figured were bad for a first-timer, so I squelched myself a bit. And thus a blog post was born! But the comparison really does offer a really spectacular example of what removing the stakes and changing motivations can do for a story. Continue reading

The Fairy Midwife – a FAE interview

FaeTo celebrate the recent release of Fae, an anthology of fairy tales like you haven’t seen them, some of the anthology authors are taking turns interviewing one another. Today I have the pleasuring of sharing a virtual chat with Shannon Phillips, author of “The Fairy Midwife.” Continue reading

Interview at Letters from Annie

Kitsune-TalesToday I can share with you a nifty interview about the Kitsune Tales series over at the blog of Annie Douglass Lima. She’s running a series called “Realm Explorers” about worlds built in fantasy (or fantastic history, as in this case), which is a pretty fun idea.

Hop over there and check it out — you might even learn something!

(Also, don’t forget that today is Digital Book Day and you can grab a free copy of Con Job, today only!)